Shadow of the Bear, a One-of-a-Kind Fall Experience

Shadow of the Bear, a One-of-a-Kind Fall Experience

The elusive Shadow of the Bear appears seasonally for just 30 minutes a day

Each fall, the side of Highway 64 near Cashiers in southwestern North Carolina becomes a location for one of the most unique leaf-looking experiences in the country – the Shadow of the Bear.

This naturally occurring phenomenon makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at 5:30 p.m. mid-October through early November. It starts with a small dark shadow at the bottom of the valley, and grows until it finally evolves into the bear.

Make sure to bring your camera to capture this unique sight and spectacular view as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain. The mountain, with an elevation of 4,930 feet, boasts sheer rock cliffs that are among the highest in the eastern United States. It provides a splendid setting for viewing leaves throughout autumn, especially during the emergence of the Shadow of the Bear.

The best viewing spot for the shadow is right off Highway 64 in a place called Rhodes Big View Overlook. Be careful and watch out for busy highway traffic when parking and leaving the site.

The Shadow of the Bear also occurs in late winter from mid-February through early March.

By the numbers

5:30 p.m.: Time of day the Shadow of the Bear begins to form

30 minutes: Amount of time the shadow is visible each day

6 weeks: Length of time the Shadow of the Bear appears each year

4,930 feet: Height of Whiteside Mountain, where the Shadow of the Bear can be viewed

For more information, visit the websites of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority or Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce. Also, enjoy this one-minute time-lapse video of the shadow forming.


There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

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